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Crime-Lab Errors Show Impact of Effective DWI Counsel

Errors in more than 100 Driving While Intoxicated cases at a local crime lab resulted in the lab reporting too-high levels of blood alcohol, a local online news source recently reported. The scandal points up the importance of having a dedicated criminal attorney mount a vigorous DWI or DUI defense if you are accused of this crime.

As Minnesota online news service ABCnewspapers.com reported, personnel at the Anoka County Sheriff's Office tri-county crime lab -- which also handles cases for Wright and Sherbourne counties -- made a math error in calculating blood alcohol in 111 cases. The error inflated blood-alcohol levels in tested urine by about one-third.

The error is important because the level of blood alcohol found is a factor in how people arrested for DWI in Minnesota are charged. Having a blood alcohol over .20, for instance, is considered an "aggravating factor" that can lead to a more serious DWI charge.

In one case where the driver was convicted, the lab error put blood alcohol over .20 when it was actually lower. This mistake led to a number of harsher penalties than were really warranted, including a 180-day license suspension where the timeframe should have been 90 days. The driver had to post $12,000 in bail, where no bail should have been required.

The widespread errors have created a mess in the courts. Due to the complexity of Minnesota DWI law, all 111 cases must now be individually reconsidered to see if they should be reopened. This problem came to light only after most of the defendants in these cases had already been sentenced. For those who've already served their sentence, authorities said, "the ship has sailed."

The crime-lab mistakes point out what a difference an experienced Minneapolis DWI attorney can make in the outcome of a case. For more information about your rights if you are charged with DWI or DUI, call the Law Office of Carolyn Agin Schmidt or contact our office online.